Music Industry

Published on January 4th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

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More data on what happened in music in 2018

Here’s more detail on BuzzAngle’s deep dive into the state of music in America last year. As the biggest music market in the world, it would be wise for us to pay attention and tease out any data that might portend things for other territories.

  • Total on-demand streams (audio and video) in the US last year hit 809.5 billion. That’s up 35% from 2017.
  • Total on-demand audio streams were 534.6 billion. That’s up 42% from the previous year.
  • In the fourth quarter of the year, there were 157.4 billion on-demand audio streams. Paid subscriptions accounted for 85% of all that.
  • Overall song consumption was up to 5.8 billion, which represents a 27% year-over-year increase.
  • Nine songs were streamed more than 500 million times. BuzzAngle didn’t say which songs those were, but Drake and Ed Sheeran gotta be in there.
  • 417 songs streamed more than 100 million times, up from 383 songs in 2017.
  • Just as in the pre-streaming world, the charts are top heavy. The top one thousand songs accounted for nearly 122 billion streams.
  • There wasn’t one single song that was downloaded (as opposed to streamed) one million times. Compare that to 14 such songs in 2017, 36 in 2016 and 60 in 2015. Streaming is winning.
  • This is interesting: Only 11% of all streams were less than eight weeks old. A full 50% of all on-demand songs were three years old or older.
  • Rock fans still aren’t streaming songs in meaningful numbers. If you add up all the streams in rock (mainstream rock, alternative, metal, indie rock, punk, etc.), the genre’s share of streaming dropped to 11% from 19% in 2017.
  • Deep catalogue titles–i.e. songs more than three years old–accounted for 55% of album sales. If we look just at vinyl, 66% of sales were by older titles.
  • Pop fans bought 27.5% of all CDs and 25.6% of all vinyl LPs.
  • Rock fans were responsible for 41.7% of all vinyl sales and 24.5% of CDs.
  • For reasons that completely baffle me, 118,218 pre-recorded cassettes were purchased by Americans in 2018.



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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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